UK honours for ex-top prosecutor and politician spark backlash

UK honours for ex-top prosecutor and politician spark backlash
UK honours for ex-top prosecutor and politician spark backlash

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Former Conservative Party leaderIan Duncan Smith speaks in London, February 28, 2015. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Dec 29 — Organisers of Britain's New Years Honours faced criticism yesterday after they included two prominent but controversial figures from politics and the legal profession in the list — and accidentally revealed almost all the recipients' home addresses.

Queen Elizabeth II's traditional annual honours recognise the achievements and contributions of a range of people across Britain, including a minority from the worlds of showbiz, sport and politics.

The list unveiled late Friday gave a damehood to Alison Saunders, a former director of public prosecutions who was forced to quit the role last year following several scandals.

These included overseeing the collapse of dozens of rape trials due to evidence disclosure problems, and accusations of mishandling other sex crime cases.

Criminal lawyer Daniel Janner led the backlash, arguing it was “an appalling honour which brings the honours system into disrepute.”

But Saunders defended her award, telling The Times newspaper that it recognised her “30 years of public service.”

Meanwhile, the honours list saw ex-Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith knighted, despite being behind welfare reforms heavily criticised as unduly harsh on benefit claimants.

Opposition Labour lawmaker Lisa Nandy branded the recognition “disgraceful” and said it appeared “to reward a legacy of cruelty and failure.”

An honours committee ex-Conservative Party leadercomprising senior civil servants and people independent of government ex-Conservative Party leaderrecommend who to award, after sifting through nominations vetted by various government departments.

The prime minister then signs off on the choices, before the queen awards the honour at ceremonies during the year.

Overall, 1,097 names were on the list for 2020, nearly two-thirds of whom have undertaken outstanding work in or for their local community.

The Cabinet Office, which oversees the process, apologised yesterday after it emerged that it had briefly posted the home addresses of most recipients online.

“A version of the New Year Honours 2020 list was published in error which contained recipients' addresses,” a spokesman said.

“The information was removed as soon as possible,” he added, noting the blunder has been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office watchdog, while the department was also contacting those affected.

Among the household names recognised this year were British-born Australian entertainer Olivia Newton-John, who found worldwide fame in the hit movie Grease, and Oscar-winning Hollywood directors Sam Mendes and Steve McQueen.

English cricketing heroes Joe Root and Ben Stokes also received awards following the country's first Cricket World Cup victory last summer. — AFP

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